What are Virtual Assistant Services?

If you run a startup or small business that needs affordable help in managing your administrative needs, a Toronto virtual assistant might be able to do the job you need. A virtual assistant can handle everything from answering mail to scheduling to customer service while technically remaining separate from your business as a whole. Toronto virtual assistants usually provide this help remotely, working off-site and covering your administrative needs day and night. Here is a more in-depth description of what virtual assistants can do for your business.

The Role of a Virtual Assistant

You can hire a 24/7 virtual assistant on a contracted basis. Once hired, a virtual assistant fulfills all of the essential roles normally covered by a receptionist or administrative assistant. The only difference is that you probably won’t see the virtual assistant in person—your communication with that individual is almost always handled remotely. Almost all virtual assistants handle essential clerical duties such as reception, dictation, and email communication. Depending on your business needs, you may also hire a virtual assistant to handle such matters as web design, social media updates, and bookkeeping. When hiring a virtual assistant, be sure to outline the expected tasks clearly and scour the candidates’ resumes to make sure the eventual hire can do the tasks required. As a remote employee, this individual will not have the same degree of hands-on training or direct oversight that a traditional administrative assistant receives.

Administrative Duties

At the bare minimum, a virtual assistant can expect to take on basic administrative duties such as answering the phone, writing letters, and checking email. The best way to facilitate this is to have virtual services such as a virtual mailbox, a phone line that directs to the virtual assistant, and a virtual private network (VPN) to facilitate communication. When it comes to communicating with your virtual assistant, you can handle matters in one of two ways. On a day-to-day basis, most people choose to communicate via email or phone to make sure that everybody is on the same page for important tasks. For long-term projects or important meetings, consider the use of a web camera and videoconference link. This allows people to get face-to-face time, even if they are physically separated by hundreds of miles.

Research Responsibilities

Virtually every business needs fresh research to stay on the cutting edge, but doing the diligence required to continually produce new and useful data comes with difficulties. Not every business requires a full-time researcher, which makes it an ideal role to hand to a virtual assistant. You can task a virtual assistant with updating existing information, compiling new data, and performing research in key journals or online sources. The virtual assistant can then arrange the information discovered in an easy-to-understand format such as a report or blog and then pass the information to you. Because much of the research is done online, this job can be handled outside of normal business hours, allowing the virtual assistant to complete the task during your off hours if necessary.

E-Commerce

Do you have a web store or online registration page that collects payment? If so, a glitch in the system or unexpected downtime can cost your company money. A virtual assistant provides the benefit of 24/7 support to handle problems as they arise and schedule appropriate downtime for maintenance. If you choose to delegate e-commerce responsibilities to a virtual assistant, you should prioritize candidates that have experience in payment platforms and web-based stores. This individual needs to be available on an on-call basis, responding to questions and solving problems at a moment’s notice. Ideally, this means the virtual assistant should have a pager or always-on cell phone to respond quickly when a crisis emerges.

Social Media Management

Even if your brand doesn’t seem to be something that the public would interact with on a regular basis, you should make sure to have a social media presence. Not only is social media an excellent way to get important information out, but it can raise awareness of your business and build a personal bond with your customers. One way in which social media platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn measure success is the response time and engagement with people who comment on your page. By employing a 24/7 virtual assistant, you can make sure that people who speak out on social media hear from your quickly and that your business stays on top of relevant trends. A social media-focused virtual assistant needs to be tech savvy, have the ability to use pictures and other media to tell a story, and have excellent communication skills.

Bookkeeping and Data Entry

Maintaining detailed financial records or entering sales data into a spreadsheet takes time, but is also essential to a healthy business. You can take advantage of a virtual assistant’s ability to work outside of normal business hours to speed up the bookkeeping and data entry process. While you will need to have some overlap in shift times so you can communicate on important matters, a virtual assistant can handle the data procedures after hours as needed. This allows you to finish up a business day, go home, and come back the next morning with the data entry work finished. When hiring a virtual assistant for bookkeeping or data entry matters, you should prioritize organization, attention to detail, and the ability to communicate complex data effectively. Ideally, you should be able to understand the data from a simple report rather than having to have an extended conversation with your virtual assistant on the matter.

The tasks above are not comprehensive, but are excellent examples of the sort of services a skilled virtual assistant can provide. Of course, you are not obligated to force your assistant to specialize in one of these areas. For example, if you need somebody to perform administrative duties and manage social media pages, it is a simple matter of finding somebody capable of filling both roles. A well-rounded virtual assistant provides flexibility and convenience that few other employees can match.

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